If we consider chemo-day day 1, then my last post was on day 4. On day 5, I was scheduled to have hydration therapy at 3pm. Hydration therapy is where you have your port accessed at the cancer center and they dump IV fluids into you to make you feel partly human.
By 7:30am on day 5 I was face down on the bathroom floor doing that thing you do when you know you are going to vomit, but you are telling yourself lies that if you lay still enough, it will pass. Truly the depths of sickness.
As I acted my way through an excruciating 30 minutes of this routine, all 3 of my children forcefully slammed the bathroom door open onto my feet or ass depending on my positioning. You see it was before school and they all needed something that was in there and apparently the memo didn’t get out after the first crash that maybe mom’s bathroom should be avoided as she is supine in a pool of her own sweat on the floor.
Obviously the vomit-fest commences and things are looking bleak my friends. I called the oncologist who said I needed to come into Cancer Center Urgent Care.
Said in SNL Stefon’s voice:
“The hottest club is a niche urgent care that you can only get into if you have cancer and have consented to being poisoned. It is around the corner from where they keep the pelvic ultrasound machines and behind the 3 abandoned wheelchairs that make you wonder, ‘what happened to them?’. Once you get there you will find beleaguered patients, the smell of saline, endless Lemonheads and 3 people named Joe.”
I thought I was going to faint multiple times on the car ride to this new club from exhaustion, dehydration and anxiety, the Holy Trinity of chemo. Luckily, everyone acted fast and I was hooked up to fluids and many meds. It makes you wonder how anyone survives this without every resource and a pocketful of advocate skillz. When I tell you I was at my lowest…
Eventually I feel well enough to go home and the next 24 hours are spent trying not to vomit, but desperately trying to move some bowels. The anti-nausea meds are wickedly constipating. In a cosmic move that was approved by NO ONE, the only foods I can tolerate are foods you would find on a children’s menu at an Applebees. Fried and salty are the names of the game. Not only are you losing muscle tone by the minute, but you are also adding adipose tissue at an alarming rate.
Day 7 I go back to my job as a teaching assistant. I won’t get into details, but I insure our family so mama sort of needs to show up at work. I felt terrible all day, but I faked it until I made…Nah I didn’t make it. I actually laid down on a table and started crying in front of 3 other teachers. I was sent home in shambles.
Another note to my oncologist and I was called by the head pharmacist of the cancer center. She tweaked my meds and added a few things mostly for severe heartburn. I asked if my course of side effects was average or if I was an outlier. I will let you guess what what she said. (OUTLIER).
Today, day 8, I got up and tried again. I actually felt human today! Could it be the med tweaks? The fact that I am simply far enough out from treatment or maybe it is the edibles I added in to the regimen?
Regardless, I am going to try and Ctrl+V today onto the next 6 days until treatment comes round again. My current main complaint is borderline crippling lower back pain from synthetic, rapid white blood cell production, but by God, I’ll take it over nausea. Feeling decent is an absolute gift.
One quick side story…
I made a short video explaining to the K-3rd grade kids I teach that I had cancer and would be losing my hair. It is informative and a bit silly as I demonstrate some wigs and scarves. We showed the clip to the students today and got some sweet and thoughtful questions and comments.
Then a 2nd grade child raised his hand and told us all that his 16 year old dog had cancer on its leg and the family decided that it was too expensive to do the operation since the animal was old so the dog died. Immediately another hand went up. This child’s dog also has cancer and has bumps all over its body and it also died.
In the meantime if you’re looking for me, I’ll be at Club Cancer. This place has everything.
6 Comments Add yours
Grace, you are still amazing. Cheering for you. Sally Abrams ( Mrs. Abrams)
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Hello Mrs. Abrams!! How wonderful to hear from you! Laurie Ann Lodge (Hamman) is still my best friend and is taking me to my next chemo.
I have followed your journey from the start, Grace. As a breast cancer survivor myself (I was diagnosed about a year before you were…), I am empathizing with you deeply over your recurrence. As much as we are so happy to be through treatment, there is always a nagging “looking over my shoulder” feeling for all of us who belong to this club we never wanted to join.
Please know that I am inspired by your strength, wit and prose. I am cheering you on through this latest fight, saying prayers, sending love and all my good thoughts. You got this, GIRL! YOU ROCK! Go give ’em HELL!
Kim from SF
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I had triple negative BC in 2018 and also did the AC chemo (red devil). My treatment was at UNC, and I love my team!
My first treatment was my worst! They did get better after the first one, if that gives you any encouragement. Also – ask your doc about Olanzapine/Zyprexa for nausea. It’s a psych med, but used off label can be very effective in managing the nausea. Was a total GAME CHANGER for me! After my first treatment (which was awful) they gave me the zyprexa during or before my infusion, and then I took it for like 2-3 days after infusion. I cannot tell you how much it helped me! I worked (at the time) at a psych hospital and I even called the doc I worked with there when they prescribed it bc I was like “ummmmm have I truly lost my mind and nobody has the heart to tell me??” He said “it’s the ultimate chill pill – take it!” He was not wrong. Ask your doc, maybe it will help you too!!
Anyways, been following you since 2018, this is my first time posting anything. But I’m out here rooting for you!! ❤️
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I have asked about this. They want to wait until I absolutely need it as I guess it can effect the heart. I am ready NOW.
I am sooo sorry to hear that you have been feeling so ill. I hope and pray that things will get easier for you!!! Sending lots of healing thoughts your way!